Public Relations Coordinator
University of New Hampshire
Durham, NH 03824 USA
v: (603) 862-3064
f: (603) 862-3567
Education, continuing or distance.Research, academic; Economic development
More equitable access to technology or electronic information; Local commitment to network-based activities; Partnerships between public and private sector
Supporting Documentation (contact author for more information):
New Hampshire Net: Linking New Hampshire to the Future
by Richard Ashooh
For Peter Gerrard, the network could not have come at a better time. A construction worker by trade, he is also pursuing a bachelor’s degree and waging a battle familiar to many full-time employed students – that of reconciling his job with his school work. With the 60-plus hours a week he put in to make a living, getting to the library during normal hours was a trial in itself. For this reason, he couldn’t have been happier to learn about New Hampshire Net, a pilot program to establish New Hampshire’s first comprehensive statewide telecomputing network. The network allowed him to revolutionize his study habits. Previously a slave to the normal hours of the library, he now uses his home computer to scan the shelves electronically via the on-line library card catalog available through the network. By accessing the Internet, he is able to take advantage of the countless academic resources offered via this increasingly popular global web of networks. He is even able to scan future course offerings through one of the New Hampshire Net’s many on-line course catalogs. Or as Gerard puts it, “It’s as though I have my own key to the library.”
What New Hampshire Net did for Peter Gerrard, its sponsors hope to accomplish for the entire state: businesses, schools, and individuals. New Hampshire Net began as an effort to improve the state’s information infrastructure in order to encourage economic growth. Its user population is a cross-section of businesses, schools, communities, and individuals, selected to reflect the likely users of the permanent network. Using ordinary personal computers connected through a phone line and modem, the users access a host computer at the University of New Hampshire. Through this, they may access a wide array of services and databases representing a variety of local and global resources. These include newspaper articles, state agency information, the library card catalogs of both Dartmouth College and the University of New Hampshire, and course schedules of Daniel Webster College, New Hampshire Technical College, UNH’s Division of Continuing Education and the School for Lifelong Learning. “We wanted the users to have access to New Hampshire information, in addition to global resources such as the Internet,” said Liz Rivet, UNH’s Assistant Director for Academic and Public Information Systems.
Not surprisingly, New Hampshire Net’s Internet connection has proved popular. A survey of the users shows a large percentage of New Hampshire Net participants frequently explore its vast resources for a variety of reasons – research, communication, or curiosity. In a largely rural state, the value of enhanced access to information cannot be underestimated.
The move toward statewide networking in New Hampshire was initiated by former Governor Judd Gregg, who established a task force last year to examine the state’s telecommunications needs. Comprised of industry representatives, community leaders, and government and education officials, the Governor’s Task Force on Statewide Telecommunications recognized that a sophisticated telecomputing infrastructure was necessary if New Hampshire is to keep pace not only with advances in telecommunications technology but also with the strides made by other states in networking.
The six-month pilot ends June 30. At that point, the Task Force will review the network and report its findings to the governor. According to Betty Le Compagnon, Executive Director of UNH’s Computing and Information Services, “There is definitely a consensus that such a network is necessary if New Hampshire is going to be able to support the telecommunications needs of its businesses, schools, and communities into the future.”
For additional information contact:
Elizabeth Rivet, Assistant Director
Academic and Public Information Systems Department
Computing and Information Services Organization
University of New Hampshire
Durham, NH 03824
v: (603) 862-1570
f: (603) 862-3567